How Much Does It Cost To Set Up And Maintain A Freshwater Fish Tank?

Setting up and maintaining a freshwater fish tank can be a fun, rewarding, and affordable hobby. Fish tanks make great home decorations and can provide hours of enjoyment. Still, many would-be owners are unfamiliar with the costs associated with buying and maintaining a freshwater fish tank.

The most common type of freshwater fish tank is the 30-gallon tank. This size is popular because it's affordable and doesn't require a lot of space. According to Tropical Fish Care Guides, a 30-gallon fish tank kit without equipment, decor, and livestock averages about $100. With all the extras, the cost of a 30-gallon fish tank rises to a grand total of just under $600.

Larger freshwater fish tanks are also popular, but they understandably come with a higher price tag. Though, if you've ever visited an aquarium, you can understand the allure of a massive fish tank. Many elements come into play when deciding to start your own water ecosystem. In this article, we will explore the costs associated with setting up and maintaining a freshwater fish tank.

Factors for cost

According to Tropical Fish Care Guides, it's important to consider all the elements of cost when starting your freshwater fish tank. The main factors include location, size, type of livestock, equipment, decorations, and maintenance.


According to Fishkeeping Forever, you should keep in mind the location of your fish tank. Larger chains may have a bigger selection, but smaller, independent stores typically have more knowledgeable staff. Regardless of where you go, the average price of fish is around $20.


Size is the most important factor when determining the cost of your fish tank. The larger the fish tank, the more it will cost to set up and maintain. A 30-gallon fish tank is the most popular size because it's affordable and doesn't require a lot of space. The typical cost ranges between $100 and $150.


The type of fish you want to keep in your tank will also play a role in how much it costs to set up and maintain your fish tank. Certain fish are more expensive than others, and some fish require special care. An adult guppy, for instance, will typically cost $4, while an adult goldfish will cost about $30, according to Fishkeeping Forever.


You will need to purchase equipment for your freshwater fish tank, which can include a filter, heater, air pump, and aquarium stand. Remember to also consider the energy costs associated with running the equipment for your fish tank. Prices range from $5 for a 5-gallon bucket to $50 for a stand.


You may want to add decorations to your freshwater fish tank, such as rocks, plants, or driftwood. These add-ons can increase the cost of your fish tank but also enhance its visual appeal. Prices range from $35 for plants to $50 for a 30-pound bag of gravel.


You will need to perform regular maintenance on your freshwater fish tank, such as cleaning the tank and changing the water. Many fish owners budget for $1 per gallon, but hiring a professional can range from $50 to $100 depending on the size of the aquarium, according to Armco Aquatics.


If you don't have a lot of space in your home, you may need to get creative when setting up your freshwater fish tank. According to All Pond Solutions, the best practice is to place your fish tank in a quiet part of your home away from direct sunlight. However, your fish will still need lighting, so be sure there's an electrical socket handy. The cost for lighting is typically $35.

Additional costs

According to Fishkeeping World, the type of fish you choose will also affect the cost of setting up your freshwater fish tank. Some fish are more expensive than others, and some fish require special care. Popular fish breeds include goldfish, guppy, neon tetra, and discus.


The goldfish is the most popular freshwater fish. They are hardy and can live in a variety of conditions. However, the common image of them living in a small gas bowl is inaccurate. Most goldfish require a 20-gallon minimum-sized tank to thrive. According to Fishkeeping Forever, the average cost of an adult goldfish is $30 (though you can get a juvenile for as little as a dollar).


Guppies are a popular freshwater fish because they are adaptable and require much less space than larger species such as goldfish. Guppies thrive in a tank that's at least one gallon in size; an adult fish costs about $4.


Like guppies, bettas are vibrant fish that are easy to care for. Though they're commonly depicted as living in small, ornamental tanks, Betta Fish Care Guide suggests it's best to keep them in tanks no smaller than 5 gallons. The cost for an adult is around $35.

Neon Tetra

Neon tetras make great beginner pets and are known for their peaceful temperament. 1.5 million neon tetras are imported into the United States each year, further proving their popularity. They do best when kept in groups, and an adult typically costs around $2.


Discus fish are beautiful, graceful fish that require larger tanks than most freshwater fish. The recommended tank size for a discus is 25 gallons minimum. They are carnivorous and require a variety of foods, and an adult costs around $300.

Types of freshwater fish tanks

According to Reefs Magazine, there are two main types of freshwater fish tanks: the dutch layout and the nature-style aquarium.

Dutch Layout

A dutch layout is a type of freshwater fish tank that simulates a natural pond. It has a large number of plants and is often densely planted. This style emphasizes visual appeal with a longer layout that provides plenty of space. While a 30-gallon tank may remain between $100 to $150, how much you spend on decorating it will depend on the type of pond environment you're trying to recreate, according to Tropical Fish Care Guides.

Nature Aquarium

A nature aquarium is a type of freshwater fish tank that simulates a natural aquatic environment. It also has a large number of plants and is densely planted. This style places emphasis on the arrangement of the plants and landscaping. Though the typical cost for plants is around $35, this amount may increase if you want to create a more lush environment with plenty of plants.

Why you need a new freshwater fish tank

If you're looking for a fun, rewarding, and affordable hobby, look no further than keeping a freshwater fish tank! There are many reasons to consider getting a new fish tank, including damage, adding new fish, and water quality.

Damage to Your Freshwater Fish Tank

If you have an existing freshwater fish tank, it's important to understand the costs associated with repairing any damage that may occur. You can complete some of the repairs, but you still want to factor in the cost of the equipment and the time needed to make the repairs. According to Aquarium Sphere, if you want to reseal a tank yourself, it shouldn't cost you more than $20.

Increase in Livestock

Another common cause of damage to fish tanks is from adding too many fish at once. When you add new fish to your tank, it's important to do so slowly to allow the bacteria in your tank to adjust. Aquarium Sphere reports that adding too many fish at once can cause a sudden increase in ammonia levels, which can be harmful to your fish.

Bad Water Quality

Water quality is very important for the health of your fish. If the water in your tank is not of good quality, it can cause your fish to become sick. There are several ways to test the water quality in your fish tank, and you should do so regularly.

Benefits of a freshwater fish tank

There are many benefits of having a freshwater fish tank, including the lowered stress levels, visual appeal, and providing educational opportunities for people of all ages.

Lowered Stress Levels

One of the benefits of having a freshwater fish tank is the relaxation it can provide. According to Blue Reef Aquarium, watching fish can help lower your stress levels and improve your mood.

Visual Appeal

Another benefit of having a freshwater fish tank is the visual appeal it can add to your home. Whether you want a small fish tank for your desk or a large fish tank for your living room, they add a touch of beauty to any space.


Freshwater fish tanks can also be educational. If you have children, a fish tank can be a great way to teach them about responsibility and the natural world. Fish tanks can also be a fun way to learn about different types of fish and their habits.